Monday, August 23, 2010

Baking Cake like the Domestic Goddess

It’s been almost an hour now. I’ve distracted myself from my anticipation for as long as I can and am ready and waiting when the first aromas tickle my nose. Fresh lemon, buttery almond, warm sweetness – these are the first wafts of a successful cake, I think, bidding “hello” from its cozy place inside my oven. I peek inside and there it is, a perfect golden round, lightly crusted, ready to be cooled and christened with a light dusting of icing sugar, then introduced to its companions Cream, Plate and Fork.

This was a practice run, my first try at making Nigella Lawson’s Damp Lemon & Almond Cake, from How to be a Domestic Goddess. The book is one of the best cookery books I’ve ever bought. Page after page it oozes with decadent temptations that I never thought I could make myself, each one as surprisingly easy to make as it is delicious. These are the things of homemade Grandmother-lore – the perfectly shaped bread loaves, flaky crust pastries, ridiculously rich chocolate puddings, the best scones, sweet and savoury muffins, and of course the cakes – plain, frosted, loafed, cupped or rounded. Don’t even think about attempting one of these recipes unless you’ve stocked up on butter and sugars of all sorts. Oh, and leave the diet in the other room, too. Diet, along with his cohorts Reduced, Less and Skinny, are never invited to a Nigella party.

If you’ve ever watched one of Nigella’s television shows you’ll know that her enthusiasm for food is authentic and contagious. The same can be said for the writing in the book – it’s so full of Nigella’s personality it makes me feel as if I might be right there in the kitchen with the Domestic Goddess herself, having a chat and learning the tricks of the trade. One of the most valuable aspects of the book is that it’s full of tips, short-cuts and how to’s that make reading it both entertaining and enlightening, and making learning new things a little easier.

Which brings me back to the Damp Lemon & Almond Cake, a sweet and zingy success of crumbly yum. Apparently it gets better with time – after a few days blanketed in tin foil, the flavours only intensify. Or so they say – seems I’ll have to try it next time when I’m feeling more patient – one hour was enough greedy anticipation for me.

The recipe: 225g soft unsalted butter, 225g caster sugar, 4 large eggs, 50g plain flour, 225g ground almonds, ½ teaspoon almond essence, grated zest and juice of 2 lemons, 21-23cm Springform cake tin, lined on the bottom. Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time, adding flour after each one. Gently stir in the almonds, almond essence, zest and the juice. Pour into the cake tin and bake for about an hour at 180-degrees Celsius, until a tester comes out almost clean, damp but not gooey.

The book: "How to be a Domestic Goddess - Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking" by Nigella Lawson (Paperback, Aug. 24 2005) Available at all major bookstores and retails at for $13.59.


  1. Ooh, nice writing, ThinkingOutLoud!

    That IS a gorgeous cake and it really does improve after a couple of days parcelled in foil.

  2. TOL - what a wonderful review of this amazing book! My mouth is watering at the thought of your cake coming out of the oven! :D

  3. Oh what a beautiful post! Deliciously written! -Markella

  4. Beautifully written, ThinkingoutLoud, it captured my imagination...lovely..keep em coming!

    I haven't tried this cake though i have baked a lot out of it and I wholeheartedly agree with you on your opinion of the book....

  5. TOL - your post made me want to rush to the kitchen and start baking... right now ! But I really mustn't :(. However, I am going downstairs immediately to get a chocolate and banana loaf out of the freezer to be ready for later :).

  6. That book is one of my favourite and I lvoe that cake. At first I thought, cream with an almond cake, why? Then I realised what cake you'd made and of course you need cream :o)

    Now next time when you have one of these 'parties' could we all come along too?

    Fab writing!

    CAL :o)

  7. Hi TOL, Beautifully written, makes me want to eat that cake with you, without or without! -Whoopie

  8. I can't wait to try it! Love, Mom

  9. Hello. Great choice of recipe!